UMass vs. Michigan: Postgame Grades from the Wolverines' Win vs. the Minutemen

David Luther@@davidrlutherFeatured ColumnistSeptember 15, 2012

UMass vs. Michigan: Postgame Grades from the Wolverines' Win vs. the Minutemen

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    The Michigan Wolverines defeated the UMass Minutemen today, 63-13.

    Michigan improves to 2-1 on the season while UMass falls to 0-3.

    UMass, clearly over-matched, was playing catch-up all day, and by mid way through the second quarter, it was clear that Michigan was emerge victorious on this particular Saturday.

    Here are our fourth quarter grades, and be sure to keep an eye out for our post-game grades and complete wrap-up which we'll post right here shortly.

Denard Robinson

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    Denard Robinson was on the field for three quarters this afternoon, and he impresses—for the most part.

    His numbers weren't as prolific as we've seen in the past, but they really didn't need to be all that great against a team like Massachusetts.

    In the passing game, Robinson finished 16-of-24 for 291 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT.  On the ground, Shoelace had 105 yards on 10 carries with 1 TD.

    Four yards shy of 400 yards is nothing to be ashamed of, and even though he didn't go 200-200 again, he managed to pass Tom Brady and Jim Harbaugh on Michigan's all-time passing yards list.

    His one interception and one fumble (recovered by Michigan) kept him from getting an A, but all-in-all, a pretty good afternoon for the Michigan star.

Running Backs

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    Whaddaya know, the run game actually showed up this week!

    After an abysmal performance against both Alabama and Air Force, Michigan's backfield finally figured out how to advance the ball downfield.  Denard Robinson did have 105 rushing yards today, but that was just 36 percent of the total yards gained on the ground.

    Fitzgerald Toussaint had 85 yards on 15 carries, along with a touchdown to his credit.  Vincent Smith found the end zone twice—the only Wolverine with multiple touchdowns on the afternoon—on three carries that netted 20 yards.

    Justice Hayes also added a touchdown with three carries for 19 yards.

    As a team, Michigan averaged 6.8 yards per carry—a number that will undoubtedly make Brady Hoke very happy.  After all, that is "Michigan football."

Wide Receivers

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    Today could have been an ever bigger day for Denard Robinson if the Michigan receiving corps could have hung on the football more often.

    There were far too many dropped passes for the receivers to get much better than a B in this game.

    Perhaps Robinson shouldn't aim for the hands any more—it seems to surprise the receivers.

    Still, someone was on the receiving end of those 291 yards and three touchdowns, and nine different receivers made an impact on the passing game box score.

    Drew Dileo led the way with 3 catches for 91 yards, followed by Devin Gardner, who had 2 receptions for 48 yards and a score.

    Roy Roundtree also hauled in a TD.

    The average completion was 18.2 yards—and it would have been even more, again if the receives didn't have the dropsies in the first half.

    This obviously needs to be a point of emphasis for the coaching staff this week; dropped passes are excusable against UMass, but a team like Notre Dame will make the Wolverines pay for unforced errors.

Tight Ends

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    It's clear that the old days of huge tight ends that do nothing but block are long gone, even at the University of Michigan.

    Coaching staffs like nothing better than a tight end who can block like the TEs of old, but can also roll out, snag a pass, and get up field for some yards and a score.

    That's exactly the type of tight end Brady Hoke and company have in Devin Funchess.

    He's becoming a more and more valuable part of the Wolverines' offensive attack, and against Massachusetts, he had two receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown.

    He was also instrumental in giving Robinson time to throw the ball when he was called upon to tie up those UMass defensive ends.

    While his numbers weren't eye-popping today, he certainly did everything he was called upon to do, and that's worth a decent final grade.

Offensive Line

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    Michigan's offensive line did absolutely everything it could today to ensure UMass was never a threat.

    The big boys up front were about as close to being on their "A-game" as possible, without actually getting an A.

    The vast majority of the time, Denard Robinson had more than enough time to find his receivers and get the ball out effectively.  Robinson was also afforded extra time to find a scrambling lane if all else failed.

    The line also opened up some big running holes, to the tune of 294 yards worth.  If the running game gets anything special from their coaches this week, they should be men enough to give half of the spoils to the offensive line that made the run game's awakening possible this week.

Defensive Line

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    In hindsight, we really expected a bit more out of the defensive line today.

    Sure, the Minutemen were held to 112 yards rushing, but they averaged 3.1 yards per rush and there just wasn't a lot of noise in the UMass backfield.

    Somehow we expected a few more sacks (only one today), tackles-for-loss (six), and big players in the Minutemen backfield.  That never materialized.

    Still, it's hard to fault a defensive line that contributed in a big way to a defense that only gave up six offensive points on two field goals.

    And really, keeping the Minutemen out of the end zone is the only reason the D-line gets a B+ instead of a straight B.


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    The mediocre grade of the Michigan linebackers is as much a result of UMass being pretty hapless on offense and it is anything else.

    Still, with an opponent that's sluggish on offense, we had hoped to see a few more big plays from the linebackers.

    Five Wolverine LBs made it on to the stat sheet against the Minutemen, led by Brandon Hawthorne and his seven tackles.

    Jack Ryan had four stops, and was credited with 0.5 tackles-for-loss, while Cameron Gordon and James Ross, III each had three stops (and Ross had one TFL).

    Joe Bolden rounded out the linebackers' contribution with one TFL on the day.

    We're going to need a lot more production out of the linebackers if the Wolverines are to stop the capable offense of Notre Dame next week; it can't all be about the defensive line and secondary.

Defensive Backs

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    The Michigan defensive backs weren't called on to do too much this afternoon, as the Minutemen had difficulty getting the ball out of their own backfield.

    But when UMass did move the ball downfield, it was the secondary that prevented a very big play.  In fact, had it not been for a few last-moment tackles, it's likely UMass would have found the end zone with its offense today.

    Thomas Gordon and Jordan Kovacs led the way for the corners and safeties today with six tackles apiece while Courtney Avery added five tackles and 0.5 tackles-for-loss.

    A host of other first and second-team players found their names on the stat sheet before the afternoon was over, but the most important stat of the day was zero offensive touchdowns surrendered and just six offensive points.

    That's good enough for a B+ on the day, even against a less-than-worthy opponent.

Special Teams

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    There wasn't much for the special teams to do today, but when it counted, they came through.

    So many UMass punts and kickoffs went out of bounds or were fair caught, there wasn't a whole lot to look at in terms of stats.  But Michigan did a terrific job on kick and punt coverage, and the punt team was responsible for Michigan's only takeaway on the day—a muffed punt return.

    UMass gained just three yards on punt returns—an average of one yard per punt return.

    Special teams are often overlooked in a lopsided game like this, but without the solid coverage play, Michigan doesn't score 63.


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    There really wasn't a whole lot to complain about today.  The coaching staff did its job adequately, not that it was hard to out-coach UMass with all of the weapons at Brady Hoke's disposal.

    Offensive play-calling was never a problem, and defensive adjustments were made when needed.

    About the only question mark when it comes to the coaching staff was in regards to Denard Robinson.  Does Michigan really need its prized workhorse takings snaps through end of the third quarter when you're up by 43 points?  Isn't that tempting fate?

    Hoke and his staff got away with it today, but let's hope we never have to see the starters taking hits that late in a game again if its avoidable.